The real race for excellence is the one where you sprint against yourself,
endeavour to outperform, raise the bar, time after time. Excellence is an ever
moving target, averred Adityaji.
Extracts from Adityaji's talk on the occasion of his being felicitated with the
"Vocational Excellence Award" by the Rotary International District Conference
My vocation is to strive continuously, to reach
excellence in all spheres of management, by weaving the threads of enterprise,
knowledge, experience, ideas and tasks into a fabric that can be called
"management". My job is to motivate, to bring together and fuse human talent,
so that they act in harmony and in unison — as one team, directed towards a
single purpose, a single goal.
I have been asked to share some of the tenets which we follow in our Group.
These tenets have stood us in good stead, and as suggested, I will share some
of these with you.
In our Group, our first and foremost objective is to satisfy our larger family,
our family comprising of our shareholders, our customers and our employees.
Towards this objective, our credo is, 'strive for excellence and perfection in
all spheres of management, through continuous improvement.' This is the Birla
Management Centre's commitment. This is our Group's philosophy. This is our
For our shareholder, it is our job, and our commitment to create wealth for him,
and to amply reward the faith that he has reposed in us.
For our customers, we believe, that, 'the customer is always right'. Our motto
is to give him total satisfaction, in terms of quality and service.
For our colleagues and employees, our motto is 'your growth is our concern'.
This, necessarily implies, a two-way traffic: the organisation should be as
committed to the employees as the employees are to the organisation.
I have been asked to talk about my vocation - "Managing a Group of Diverse
Businesses". It may surprise you that, in several aspects, my vocation is
similar to that of an artist. Let me start with:
Participative management by consensus and consultation:
The need for this is felt, in a rapidly changing and challenging scenario. It
is not possible for just a few people at the top alone, to lead corporations
to peaks of excellence. It requires the involvement, the commitment and the
participation, of one and all, to meet the threats of today's challenging
environment and to capitalise on future opportunities.
A decision reached by the interaction of several minds is a distilled
decision, and by far superior to decisions taken by an individual in
isolation. We endeavour to pick on the brains of each and every individual in
the organisation. The impact of giving your people space — giving them freedom
to act and to take decisions — can be dramatic.
We now come to:
Knowledge integration programme "KIP"
Talking of Knowledge Integration Programme, we have more than 50 units in 8
countries. Each unit has in some areas its centres of excellence, as also
pockets of ignorance.
We pass on excellence in knowledge, at any one centre, speedily and immediately,
in an effective manner, to other units. This gives us a cutting edge with
respect to competition. This also means that we do not have to reinvent the
wheel at every unit and solve the same problem at several centres, at great
cost, wasting considerable time.
Our search for knowledge is not limited to within the Group. We seek knowledge
from every nook and corner, from our competitors, suppliers, customers, et al.
Even the worst run units in India would have something to teach us. It is with
this humility that we seek knowledge.
The more we learn, the greater is our awareness of how little we know. As they
say, "The learner inherits the world." I am reminded of a funny story - a
consultant was asked to look into the reasons - why a particular business was
not doing well.
He started by interviewing the employees. The consultant asked one of them,
"What do you do?"
The employee replied "Nothing".
Then he asked the next employee what was he doing.
The reply again was "Nothing".
The consultant concluded that the reason, for the business not doing
well was that two people were doing the same thing, and therefore, one of them
Skills development programme
The third tenet of our philosophy is Skills Development Programme.
In a dramatic and ever changing scenario where technology is out-pacing the
human mind and skills, it is imperative that we train our people not just to
excel, but to keep pace with the sophisticated equipments,
techniques and operating and maintenance systems, all of which are unfolding in
a dramatic manner because, all said and done, the technology, the machines,
are all driven by the human mind and if these skills are not available, we will
not be able to cope with either the new technologies or operate new
This impressed on us the need to upgrade the skills of people on a constant
basis, on a war footing, with total dedication and commitment. We do this to
the best of our abilities — constantly and consistently — so that we remain
prepared to adapt to the evolution and revolution
of technology. The guiding principle and motto of everyone in the organisation
has to be:
We now come to systems perfection. High levels of expertise and skills are
required in individuals to run complex organisations. But if you provide the
platform, the support of good systems and established procedures in an
organisation, then even an average person can outperform the brilliant one,
who works without the back up of systems. We have therefore striven hard to
perfect our systems and operations procedure, which has benefited us greatly.
We now come to :
Delegation and decentralisation
With the ever-expanding size of businesses, the initiatives of just a few
people at the top cannot run an organisation successfully or efficiently. With
size, comes the need to delegate and decentralise. It is also essential for
attracting talent. The talented would not like to join
an organisation which is highly centralised because today's generation needs
space, needs freedom, needs the platform to be creative
and assertive and to be able to take its own decisions. We now come to the last
Human resource development
Time and again, the supremacy of the human element cannot be over emphasised.
The success or failure of an organisation depends on people, on human beings,
on their talent, on their initiative, on their enterprise, on their ability to
lead, and coordinate with others, to work as a team. It also depends on the
ability of the organisation, to motivate them to greater heights.
All these are a part of human resources development. From the act of recruiting
people, charting out their career growth, giving them opportunities through
cross functional training. Making them a part of you - the organisation - and
making the organisation responsive to their needs, to their hopes, and their
aspirations. This whole, complex gamut of activities used to attract, to
retain, to support and then to groom people, to take on leadership
responsibilities, is encompassed under HRD on which our Group lays great
The future belongs to those organisations which have a strong management base.
It belongs to those organisations, which have a vision, which have the will to
fight and the ability to excel. The future belongs to those organisations
which have the awareness to keep changing their management styles and systems
in tune with the changing kaleidoscope of the external environment, and also
with the hopes and aspirations of its own people.